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Wednesday,26-January-2022

International

Virat Kohli , Pujara’s dismissals no worry, got out to good balls: Rohit Sharma

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India opening batsman Rohit Sharma has played down the failure of Indian middle-order and key batsmen after the trio Cheteshwar Pujara (4), Virat Kohli (0) and Ajinkya Rahane (5) failed to build on the platform provided by him and KL Rahul on the second day of the first Test against England.

“It is not a concern. If you look at it, it were actually to good balls that they (Kohli, Rahane) got out to,” said opener Rohit Sharma who was dismissed for 36 at the stroke of lunch.

India went from 97 for no loss to 112/4 as the Indian batsmen fell to swing from James Anderson as well as a run out [of Rahane]. Anderson scalped both Pujara and Kohli off successive balls, having them caught behind, just before the run out of Rahane.

“I just feel that sometimes you have to play the conditions and I thought we played the conditions very well to start with. But obviously there will be times you know the bowlers are going to come back and you got to respond to that. Just that we were not able to respond to that,” said Sharma to the media in a virtual interaction.

“But those things happen in a place like this where we know the overhead conditions matter a lot and suddenly when it was overcast, the ball started to do a little more than expected. I don’t see any concern there. They just got out to good balls.”

Sharma and Rahul (57 not out) had added 97 for the first wicket before the former was dismissed caught at fine leg just before lunch. He fell to a pull shot, which is his strength.

In the past, he has been blamed for throwing his wicket away. During the fourth and final Test against Australia at the Gabba, Sharma had squandered a good start and holed out to deep off off-spinner Nathan Lyon. India, however, won that match.

Sharma said he doesn’t regret having fallen to his shot.

“Like you said it is my shot, so I have to play shots, as we saw in the first hour of play, we did not get any loose balls and their bowlers were quite disciplined,” said Sharma.

“So, you have to take your odd chances when the ball is there, you got to punish them… you got to be ready to play your shots as well, because their bowlers are so disciplined, you hardly get anything. So, you got to put the balls, which are in your area away,” added Sharma.

“..We will play those shots. While doing that if you get out, I mean you feel disappointed, but you know there is very thin line between getting out like that and that same delivery if it [had landed] slightly away or five yards left and right of the fielder, it could have been [a boundary].”

International

Australia to tour Pakistan with a full-strength squad, says George Bailey

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Chief selector George Bailey on Tuesday confirmed that no Australian player has asked to be left out of the squad that is set to embark on their first tour of Pakistan since 1999.

Bailey added that the selection will be solely based on managing their workload.

“I believe the boards are still working through some of the minor details around that tour, so once that gets the formal tick of approval then we’ll announce the squad post that, but we’re reasonably well down the track,” Bailey was quoted as saying by Cricket Australia’s website.

“The two (security) briefings that I’ve sat in on, the security sounds very, very robust.”

The tour is set to start on March 3. It will consist of three Test matches to be played in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore and will be followed by a three-match ODI series from March 29 to April 2. A lone T20I will be played on April 5.

The last time Pakistan had an ICC event on its soil was when it co-hosted the 1996 World Cup along with India and Sri Lanka. The terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 ensured Test cricket remained out of bounds until 2019.

In 2020, before the T20 World Cup, New Zealand and England had pulled out of the tour of Pakistan citing security concerns.

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Hockey: France join Men’s Pro League, to start campaign against India on Feb 8

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Canada have withdrawn from the Men’s FIH Pro League due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the International Hockey Federation (FIH) has called up France to take place in the third edition of the Series. France will take on India in their opening match on February 8.

“After Canada eventually pulled out due to Covid-related issues, FIH had contacted the next best teams, according to the FIH World Rankings, to invite one of them to replace Canada. France have accepted the invitation and, as the highest-ranked team having done so, will join the global home-and-away league for this season,” the FIH informed in a release on Tuesday.

As Canada, along with South Africa had been included in the men’s FIH Pro League in place of Australia and New Zealand, who had pulled out last year citing Covid-19 related travel restrictions by their respective countries. As Canada and South Africa were included only for the ongoing third edition of the Pro League, France too will participate in the current edition and will be left out once Australia and New Zealand return to the field for the fourth edition in 2023.

“As communicated earlier, France’s participation in the FIH Hockey Pro League is planned for this third edition only. Indeed, Australia and New Zealand, who are not playing the current season due to Covid-related international travel constraints, are expected to come back for the fourth edition (2022-2023),” the FIH release said.

French, who will host the next Olympics in Paris in 2024, will play their first match on February 8 against India, in Potchefstroom, South Africa, and meet the Netherlands on February 9.

France have qualified for the next Men’s World Cup, which will be played in January 2023 in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela. The French Men’s Junior team recently claimed the bronze medal in the Men’s Junior World Cup in Bhubaneswar, with France captain Timothée Clément crowned Best Player of the Tournament.

“It is great news that France are joining the FIH Hockey Pro League for the current season. As hosts of the next Olympic Games, being part of such a top-flight competition involving the best teams in the world can only be a positive move for the French team as well as for the growth of hockey in the country,” FIH CEO Thierry Weil was quoted as saying in the statement.

The first FIH Hockey Pro League matches of the year will involve the women’s teams of China and India. They will take place on January 31 and February 1 in Muscat, Oman, where both teams are currently playing the women’s Asia Cup 2022.

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Sune Luus to lead South Africa in West Indies ODIs

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All-rounder Sune Luus will lead the 18-member South Africa women’s squad against West Indies in a five-match ODI series starting January 28, the Cricket South Africa (CSA) confirmed on Tuesday.

The 26-year old Luus will lead a side that is missing senior players — regular captain Dane Van Niekerk (ankle injury) as well as Lizelle Lee (Covid). Chloe Tryon will serve as Luus’ deputy in the series.

“Sune has really managed the captaincy quite well in the absence of our leaders, Dane and Chloe, and we are quite excited to be giving her the role again and in our conversations with her, she really rolled out the pathway for us, getting through the West Indies tour and for the World Cup,” said Clinton du Preez, Convenor of Selectors.

“We are quite happy to have her back in that role and I am sure the leadership and the senior players in the team will give her massive support. Chloe as the vice-captain is a great combination between the two individuals and personalities and we think it will be a balanced approach for our successes,” he added.

The squad also includes key players such as Shabnim Ismail, Mignon du Preez as well as Laura Wolvaardt, who was the second-highest run-scorer (161) when the two teams last faced each other.

Meanwhile, off-spinner Raisibe Ntozakhe is among those picked in the squad. The 25-year-old hasn’t been featured for South Africa since 2018 when she was suspended from bowling in international games owing to her then illegal action. She has recently been cleared to bowl.

“It’s greatly important for us to fill the vacancy of Dane van Niekerk, and therefore we looked at a few options. It is also quite exciting to have Raisibe Ntozakhe back in the squad and for her to be playing international cricket again, it will be a great opportunity for her to revive her career,” du Preez said.

“We are quite comfortable with the squad we have selected. It’s a balanced squad and we have gone for an extended squad to give more players an opportunity to ensure that we complement the skill sets within the team.

“With the conditions up in Johannesburg, it will suit us to play against the West Indies. They are normally used to the slow, turning wickets and for now, it is a great opportunity to strike with our bowlers and to also have a balanced approach to those results,” he added.

The five-match ODI series in Johannesburg serves as a World Cup preparation for the South Africa side looking to better their semi-final show from five years ago. The two sides met in a five-match series in the Caribbean last August, a series South Africa clinched by a dominant 4-1 margin.

Squad: Sune Luus (c), Chloe Tryon (vc), Andrie Steyn, Anneke Bosch, Ayabonga Khaka, Lara Goodall , Laura Wolvaardt, Marizanne Kapp, Masabata Klaas, Mignon du Preez, Nadine de Klerk, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Raisibe Ntozakhe, Shabnim Ismail, Sinalo Jafta, Tazmin Brits, Trisha Chetty, Tumi Sekhukhune

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